Geburah is the second sphere on the Pillar of
Severity and translates as ĎStrength.í The name of God associated with Geburah
is Elohim Gibor, which means, ĎGod of Judgment.í This sphere has to do with
people being judged according to their deeds. Chesed (the sphere directly across
from Geburah) is the sphere where one receives Mercy from his/her sins; Geburah
is where the guilty do not go unpunished. If it wasn't for the sphere of Geburah,
the sphere of Chesed would lack significance. If there wasn't a possibility of
punishment, there wouldn't be a need for forgiveness. Geburah is the sphere that
establishes justice within the Universe, and ensures that the wicked do not
profit indefinitely through their evil deeds.
While on the earth, many people will fall victim to heinous crimes. Some acts are so blatantly evil that no amount of penance could ever make up for the damage done. Bad things happen to good people (in the world), but God would not be considered a loving God if He allowed the perpetrators to get away with such evil indefinitely. On the other hand, if evildoers were punished immediately a choice between good and evil would not be made. Without choice peoplesí characters/consciences would not develop. Permitting evil to exist along with the righteous allows each personís character to grow and become apparent.
People are given freedom to make choices, and to live their lives and transform their characters as they see fit. The punishments/rewards are withheld until each personís personality is clearly established. When people face judgment, they are not punished for a single mistake, but for a lifetime of choosing evil. As certain people allow evil to grow in their lives, the heinousness of their actions will also increase; to the point that offering forgiveness to such a person would be a grave injustice. God is a loving God who wants everyone to make the correct decisions, but when people choose evil, it would not be just for them to treat God and others shamefully throughout their lifetimes and then receive the same rewards as those who successfully struggled against and rejected evil.
Revelations 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war, His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Revelations 20:12-15 and I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The promise that the wicked will not escape Godís wrath is found throughout the Bible. In the verses above, Jesus leads Godís army in a final battle against the evildoers, and liberates the world. On Judgment Day, every person will be judged according to their deeds. The people whose names are found written in the Book of Life will enter the Kingdom of God, and all others will be judged by the things they have done Ė and will experience the second death.
Godís judgment/wrath has existed since the foundation of the world, but He has displayed His wrath and dealt with evil differently through the ages. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God punished them by removing them from paradise, causing pain in childbirth, and laborious lives (Genesis Chapter 3). When Cain murdered Abel, God marked Cain so that his crime would be apparent to all, and He cursed him to live as a fugitive and vagabond Ė Cain was previously a farmer, and his livelihood was removed as part of his curse (Genesis Chapter 4).
Genesis 6:5-6 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Genesis 6:12-14 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
Genesis 7:21-23 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
The punishments God ordained for Adam, Eve, and Cain did not remove evil from the world nor mankindís desire for it. Evil grew to the point that God was sorry that He had even created man. The evil in the world was so great that God destroyed all life existing on dry land Ė with the exception of the few He spared in the ark. God spared Noah and his family, and instructed the survivors to multiply and replenish the earth. Shortly thereafter, the survivors again defied Godís instructions and sought to built a tower and remain in one place.
In response, God confused the peoplesí languages so they would not be able to work together (Genesis 11:7-8). Similar to how God selected Noah as a righteous person to spare, following the Tower of Babel incident, God selected Abram as one who will follow Godís call to go where God directs him. Godís next approach to dealing with evil was to select a certain people to be His own, and He would reward their faithfulness. Shortly after arriving in their new lands, Lot and his family departed from Abram and moved to an city where evil was abundant.
Genesis 19:15-17 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed."
At Abrahamís request, God sent angels to spare Lotís family from the wrath God would inflict on Sodom and Gomorrah. This approach of saving the good and punishing the guilty would continue in Godís approach to dealing with evil.
Exodus 12:12 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 'Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
The Hebrew people eventually found themselves as slaves in Egypt in need of liberation. God established the Feast of Passover and the Blood of the Lamb as a means of sparing His chosen from death. Not all of the people spared were good (which might also be said about Lot and his family), but they were Godís chosen people, and heirs to the promises God made to Abraham.
The evil of the non-Hebrew cultures was left alone; to grow in corruption until God could no longer tolerate their existence, and like the great flood incident, all of the evildoers were subsequently wiped out (by either the Hebrew army or others). As for Godís chosen people, the Torah or Law of Moses was created in an effort to keep this single group of people on earth pure. A system of rules and punishments were put in place, and the more significant sins received the death penalty.
This approach continued for many years, and King David wrote, ďMorning by morning will I put to death all the sinners in the land, so that all evil-doers may be cut off from Jerusalem (Psalm 101:8).Ē The criminal justice system did not prevent evil, but served to restrain it. In spite of rules and punishments, evil continued to exist within their society to the point that everyday King David would put to death all of the evildoers in the land only to find more the next morning.
For centuries, the Hebrew people would be brought back into subjection to God only to depart from His teachings a short time later. After the death of Christ, Godís chosen people were no longer limited to a single race of people (Jews/Hebrews). Now the righteous and evil are distinguished solely upon their actions. Countries and races of people are no longer wiped off of the face of the earth because of their sins, because now Godís followers are spread out around the world and existing within many societies. Christians live in the same societies as evildoers, but they do not partake in the same evil practices. The day will come when God sends His angels to mark the righteous (as He did with Noah, Lot, and at Passover) for salvation and the evil for destruction, but it will be at the final judgment.
Psalm 37:37-39 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; The future of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble.
Ezekiel 9:4-6 and the Lord said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it."To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. "Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple.
Revelations 7:2-3 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."
Revelations 9:4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
Revelations 14:1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads.
On the Day of Judgment, God will send His angels to mark the people for either salvation or destruction. Whose who have received the salvation offered by Christ will escape death, in the same way that the slaves in Egypt escaped the Angel of Death at Passover. Just as God spared Noah, Lot, and their families, He will ensure that only those deserving of judgment will face His wrath.
Revelation 16:6-8 Because they have poured out the blood of Your people and the prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. Such is their due! And from the altar I heard the cry, Yes, Lord God the Omnipotent, Your judgments are true and just and righteous! Then the fourth angel emptied out his bowl upon the sun, and it was permitted to burn humanity with heat.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man and the whole for every man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil.
Proverbs 11:3-5 The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the willful contrariness and crookedness of the treacherous shall destroy them. Riches provide no security in any day of wrath and judgment, but righteousness delivers from death. The righteousness of the blameless shall rectify and make plain their way and keep it straight, but the wicked shall fall by their own wickedness.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
God will judge the world with justice, and everyone will receive their just rewards based on their actions. God is both a God of Forgiveness and a God of Justice. His judgments are fair; the righteous will be spared and the wicked will not escape. Victims will be avenged, and evildoers will face the just consequences for every secret thing they have done.
1 Samuel 2: 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them will He thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge to the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to His king and exalt the power of His anointed.
Psalm 59:8-10 But You, O Lord, will laugh at them; You will hold all the nations in derision. O my Strength, I will watch and give heed to You and sing praises; for God is my Defense. My God in His mercy and steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look on my enemies.
Psalm 68:34-35 Ascribe power and strength to God; His majesty is over Israel, and His strength and might are in the skies. O God, awe-inspiring, profoundly impressive, and terrible are You out of Your holy places; the God of Israel Himself gives strength and fullness of might to His people. Blessed be God!
Psalm 140:6-8 I said to the Lord, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my supplications, O Lord. O God the Lord, the Strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle. Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; further not their wicked plot and device, lest they exalt themselves. Selah!
Habakkuk 3:18-19 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high placesÖ
God is strength to His followers. He will avenge them of the wrongs done to them, and will execute vengeance against the evildoers. Godís followers are instructed not to take their own revenge (Romans 12:19), but instead to wait for the Lord (Proverbs 20:22) and trust that God will execute judgment at the appointed time.
The path connecting Geburah and Binah is represented by the Chariot Tarot card. This is the path between Judgment and Understanding. The man standing on the chariot wears a crown, which may be likened to the crown of life received at the sphere of Kether. There is a smiley face on his left shoulder and a sad face on his right, representing the pillars of mercy and severity. If we view the manís body as representing aspects of the Qabalah, then his feet would be standing on Malkuth. The two sphinxes represent the riddle of the sphinx, and the choices we make between good and evil while on the earth.
Behind the chariot we see a river and a kingdom; these could represent the River of Life and the Kingdom of Heaven. The chariot is a vehicle of war, but it is not moving; symbolizing Christ waiting in Heaven for the Day of Judgment (represented by Geburah), when He will lead the armies of Heaven to liberate the world from evil. The drapery behind the charioteer has the Star of David in its pattern, symbolizing the Kingdom of Christ.
Journeying up the Pillar of Severity, we learned of the God of Hosts and the glory to come at Hod. The Hangedman Tarot represented enlightenment and understanding of the need to suffer, be disciplined, and overcome the evil in the world in order to avoid judgment. At the sphere of Geburah we examined how God deals with evil and the need for judgment. This path sits right beyond Geburah, and represents an understanding of the need to wait for Godís judgment (as learned at Geburah) combined with a deeper understanding of Godís plan and logic (which will be discussed at the sphere of Binah). This is where the God of Hosts waits to execute judgment at the appointed time Ė once mankind has had a chance to decide between good and evil (the riddle of the sphinx).
Like the Magician Tarot card, the man on the chariot holds a wand, symbolizing that he is a conduit of Godís power. One sphinx is black and the other is white, representing opposites and the choices we make between good and evil. The legend of the sphinx has been discussed previously in this book, but as a reminder, the sphinx asks a question and if the wrong answer is given the person is killed by the sphinx. On this path, the two sphinxes guard the Heavenly city, and the personís choice between good and evil will determine if they enter the kingdom or face judgment.
The Egyptian headdress on the sphinx brings to mind how God subdued the Egyptians and how Moses used his staff (wand) to liberate the slaves from bondage. The parallels between Christ and Moses will be discussed further in the chapter on Binah. Moses was a prince of Egypt who turned away from a life of luxury in order to follow God and protect those being oppressed. Moses was given a powerful staff and was used as a conduit of Godís power to free Godís chosen people from Egypt. In doing so, God punished the Egyptians for their sins and brought justice His mistreated people. Pharaohís armies and chariots were destroyed as the Hebrew people escaped across the Red Sea.
Exodus 14:16-18 "As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen."
Exodus 14:21-23 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea.
Exodus 14:28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh's entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained.
Exodus 15:18-19 "The LORD shall reign forever and ever." For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.
God used Moses as a conduit of His power, and He delivered His people and destroyed their captures. God was honored by the events that led up to and eventually delivered the Hebrew people from bondage. His righteous judgment demonstrated His strength (Geburah) and brought Him glory (Hod), just as Christ will do at His second coming (Matthew 16:26-28).
Judgment is promised for those who make the wrong decisions, but mercy and forgiveness is available to those who seek enlightenment, wisdom, and understanding and apply what they learn. Sometimes we need to slow down the chariot and take the time to make the correct decisions as to what paths we will take in life.
Acts 8:27-31 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot reading Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
Acts 8: 35-38 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Sometimes our chariots need to stand still or come to a stop so that we donít miss out on the more important aspects of life. The eunuch was saved because he took the time to understand the message of truth, and he acted upon what he learned (following the instructions and getting baptized). Phillip listened to the Spirit and served as a conduit of God to bring salvation to a seeker.
Psalm 20:6-8 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright.
Psalm 46:8-10 Come, behold the works of the LORD, who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
God saves His chosen and delivers with the saving strength of His right hand. Jesus sits at Godís right hand, and will lead Godís armies in the Day of Judgment; but for now, He is waiting for the appointed time, and giving each individual a chance to choose between good and evil and determine their destinies.